(SCREENED AT THE 2003 PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.) This is a strange little movie. An homage to German Expressionism, complete with a full battery of silent-film paraphernalia (title cards, orchestra score, broad acting, spooky B&W visuals) it features the Royal Winnipeg Ballet performing an interpretation of DRACULA. Yes, DRACULA. It sounds like a joke, though Iíd say itís more like an affectionate parody, as director Guy Maddin pokes good fun at black-and-white melodrama while he simultaneously embraces it.The elaborate art design is the main point of interest. The look of the filmógas-lit atmosphere all over the jointóis dead-on perfect, and it must have been horribly difficult to achieve. Five minutes of this film makes for fine viewing. Problem is, itís over an hour long, and monotony sets in well before the end. You can sense that the filmmakers tried like mad to avoid that, varying the pace in a now-quick, now-slow manner, with accompanying shifts in the score. But itís interesting only in its formal aspect: the sketchy storyline is pretty dull (which you might say is beside the point as this began as a ballet, but if it couldnít be translated into film, maybe it should have stayed one). As pure spectacle, itís impressiveóbut thereís little here but spectacle; after the novelty of the film wears off, it quickly becomes tedious. Seventy-five minutes of pirouetting vampires is more than anyone should be expected to endure.A novel experiment, but itís not likely to please either horror fans or ballet aficionados.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.